Syrian forces moved into the town of Khan Sheikhoun on Friday, extending their crackdown in a province that has been one of the flashpoints of anti-government protests, opposition activists and human rights groups said.
Syria's state-run SANA news agency reported that government troops were fighting armed gangs in the embattled northwest province of Idlib, an acknowledgement by President Bashar al-Assad's government of military operations that human rights groups allege have resulted in the killings of civilians.
At least one woman was killed in clashes between demonstrators and Syrian forces, who rolled into Khan Sheikhoun at dawn with tanks and armored personnel carriers, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which cited reports from opposition activists in the city.
The identities of the opposition activists were withheld by the rights group at their request out of concerns for their safety.
And in the nearby city of Hama, where military units withdrew earlier this week, busloads of plainclothes security forces opened fire to break up anti-government protests after Friday prayers at local mosques, an opposition activist there told CNN. There were reports of casualties, but their number or severity was unknown, he said.
The activist said several volleys of gunfire were used to disperse worshippers at a mosque he attended and that similar incidents had occurred at other mosques.
CNN is not able to independently verify accounts of events on the ground or the death tolls. Syria has severely limited access to foreign journalists in recent months.FULL STORY